Google Cardboard was purposefully designed to be cheap and cheerful, aiming at the very bottom of the VR market. Cardboard was produced so that anyone who wanted to use virtual reality could do so, without it breaking the bank. It is also ideal for those people who want to see what all the fuss is about without investing in a pricey headset that they will not use more than once or twice.
Google Cardboard is definitely cheap, costing only a few dollars, euros or pounds. When first on offer, the product came as a flat pack, needing some assembly. Unlike may other self-assemble products, the Cardboard was very easy to put together, featuring clearly labelled connections and the whole product took a mere five minutes to pop together and be ready to go. The kit comprised cardboard, some double-sided tape and the lenses, with the customer needing to be in possession of a smartphone that was compatible with the VR apps and films available on the market. Google Cardboard is widely available, even if the kits are no longer on offer – many second-hand sites have them for a good price.
Pros and Cons
Easy to assemble
Compatible with most up-to-date Android smartphones
Good availability, for the most part
Not the most comfortable headset to use
Lack of content available (this tends to be true for all VR headsets, and is rapidly changing as more and more VR content is created)
Can cause simulation sickness which is akin to motion sickness and is caused by issues in the playback and synchronisation of the two fields of view
Not compatible with some older smartphones, which can exacerbate resolution and quality issues
Google Cardboard does not claim to be anything fancy, offering a basic but functional product for those who cannot afford a high-end virtual reality headset or for those who only want to dabble briefly in virtual reality, knowing that purchasing a full-sized Virtual Reality headset will be an unnecessary expense for their situation. This promise is upheld, and users expectations will be generally satisfied. However, Cardboard is not the most comfortable headset to use, especially for long periods of time, nor does it offer the very best resolution – so perhaps not an ideal way to persuade a reluctant parent to invest in a virtual reality headset! But overall, Google Cardboard upholds its premise – it is the cheapest virtual reality headset on the market, and it allows everyone to give virtual reality a try if they are not sure about what it has to offer them.